It all started here:http://evolvedmale.tumblr.com/post/18393169845/40-days-of-sobriety
So this past weekend was St Patrick’s Day, without a doubt, one of the few days a year when it’s okay to be drunk at 11 o’clock in the morning.
The day started with brunch with a few friends at one of many busy pubs in the GTA. The green beer was flowing, many a football (soccer) games were on the big screens and my friends were sloshed before noon. It was a good meetup since I haven’t seen these guys in a couple months. As the group continued to pound back the green beer….I calmly sipped my ginger ale.
Later in the evening, a friend had prepared a dinner for a group of us in thanks for a wonderful group purchase of a present for her. Quite frankly, she deserved our present for being such a great person. She had taken the liberty of purchasing 2 bottles of soju and a bottle of wine to serve at dinner.
As the group enjoyed shots of soju chased by red wine…I calmly sipped my water.
After dinner, our group wandered to a nearby Boston Pizza to partake in indulgence of green beer. There was a great discussion between 2 opposite points of view. The conversation revolved around the ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’ in people. It basically came down to the matter of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ versus ‘guilty until proven innocent’ - I am of the latter opinion. I believe that people are inherently bad and that we, as people, must strive to improve and better ourself to be ‘good.’ The discussion was not only humorous, but incredibly enlightening as my counterpart had quite a strong opinion of the opposite. I especially appreciated the fact that the opposing opinions were presented in a logical and coherent manner…with occasional suggestions of ‘oh, come on…it’s okay to drink today, it’s St Patty’s day!’
As the night continued, the group slowly drank their green beer…I calmly sipped my water.
My continuing thought: Temptation, she is strong and charming, but no stronger than a man’s word, and no more charming than a man of integrity.
So it’s been 14 days since I’ve given up cigarettes and alcohol.
I haven’t had the slightest sip of alcohol save for the after-brushing rinsing of Listerine. I haven’t had a cigarette anywhere near me except for the dickhead friends who exhale smoke in my direction, despite knowing that I’ve abstained from smoking. In fact, since February 22nd, I have removed all the half-empty liquors and empty beer bottles from my home. Also, on February 23rd, I threw out half a pack of Craven’s…in hindsight, I probably should have given it to a friend, or a stranger, or a homeless person who probably needed it more, sorry guys.
I hardly consider myself an addict to smoking or drinking. However, I will admit that I certainly enjoy both. I appreciate the taste of alcohol and the effects of intoxication. The taste of cold beer on a warm afternoon. The sting of a 40 proof hitting the back of the throat. The mixed, rich flavour of a perfectly mixed Black Velvet (1 part Guiness Stout+1 part cider or champagne, my personal favourite) wrapping over one’s tongue…these are a few examples of things I’ve grown to love and enjoy.
As for smoking, it developed from a couple of habits. Firstly, the industry I am involved in has many people who smoke. Because I interact with these people on a daily basis, it becomes a natural ritual of ‘meeting, lunch, smoke break, meeting, smoke break….’ - it’s perpetual. Adding that the nature of the industry is outdoors, it just allows for one to easily light up. Another reason I picked up smoking is likely because of ritual to smoke and drink. I can’t quite explain why I feel the urge to have a smoke when I drink. Maybe it’s the taste that is produced when combining the two; maybe it’s the normal social expectation; or maybe it’s just an oral fixation….I won’t dwell on figuring out the reason just yet.
In the last 14 days, I’ve noticed a few things. The first is that I am not an addict. I’ve observed myself carefully and I have not noticed any common withdrawal symptoms. I don’t feel any of the unease that are common to addicts who abstain from their addictive substances. My daily performance has not changed saved for one minor observation that my friends have made: I’m smoking and drinking less…..well no shit. Nothing gets by you guys, does it?
Jokes aside, I have also made other observations. There are a lot of people who smoke. I mean a LOT. I was wandering the streets of downtown Toronto this past Saturday and I noticed that almost every third person was smoking. I wish I could exaggerate when I say one out of every three people was smoking but I simply can’t. It’s likely that I never noticed before because I’d be in the habit of lighting up as well…but when this realization hit me, I was quite a bit shocked.
Everyday, we’re bombarded with messages of ‘live better, good health’ and ‘smoking causes limp dick and deformed babies.’ In light of the aforementioned, there are a lot of smokers out there. It’s quite possible that the demographics of the area I was in gave me an biased sample of the general population, after all, it was downtown Toronto. But if there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that cigarette companies are doing something right.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that my palette has grown quite a bit more sensitive to certain flavours. Bitter tastes more bitter, sweeter is just that much sweeter, and other things just taste that much better (thanks girls….you know exactly what I mean because you love it just as much as I do). It’s likely that my improved taste is caused by the cessation of smoking. That’s not to say I had any serious case of Dysgeusia, however, it is likely that smoking dulled my taste buds.
Fourteen days down, no problem.
How are the rest of you doing?
As some of you know, I’ve decided to abstain from cigarettes and alcohol for 40 days. I forgot to mention, in my previous post, that a few members in my great network of friends have also taken on similar challenges to improve their lives.
One of them, who has a long term goal of getting into better shape, has decided to abstain from junk food, fast food, and generally, anything unhealthy. He’s been doing for a few weeks now, but he’s decided to be a bit more strict with his diet.
Another, who has set a goal of getting out and meeting more people to expand his network, has decided to make a greater effort to get out and socialize more. He’s taking steps to get involved in activities around the city to meet new people.
A few ladies have decided to abstain from eating out and avoiding junk food in hopes of promoting a healthier diet and saving money.
Another gentleman has decided to give up soft drinks (Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, etc).
One of the ladies in my network decided that she swears just a bit too much. Let’s face it, females who cuss are VERY unappealing - it’s especially worse when it’s within earshot of little kids. She will try to stop cussing and hopefully, it’ll just drop from her vocabulary.
I know in my other previous posts, I’m of strong opinion that everything you want to achieve in life is gained through sacrifice (giving up something). In some cases, it might be about doing something as well.
For example, another friend decided that he wants to overcome his fear of talking to strangers. He feels awkward and has trouble carrying a conversation with people he doesn’t know very well. He’s taking it upon himself to talk to a complete stranger everyday for the next 40 days.
In this case, he’s not really giving up anything (except, arguably, his anxiety of social situations). But in the grand scheme of things, he’s taking the right steps to achieve his goals.
In general, we can see the wide range of goals that individuals have set. Some are quite drastic and will be quite challenging. The amplitude of the goal is not relevant. The important thing is taking the steps to improve oneself.
As friends, we will be supportive and encouraging of each other. We will be the ears to listen when anyone faces a challenge that is consuming them. We will offer advice when asked. We will certainly help each other through our challenges for friendship, love and care is unconditional.
I am giving up cigarettes and alcohol for 40 days. The timing coincides with Lent, however, I am not a religious person. I am simply taking this opportunity to flex my ‘discipline muscles.’ Lent is not about denial, it’s about freedom.
When you build your discipline, you give yourself the ultimate control….that of yourself. And, my friends, is something we are severely lacking these days. The age of “NOW” has destroyed what we once held important. When you empower yourself, you have absolute freedom and liberty over your emotions and urges. You control your emotions, you are not controlled by your emotions.
For the most part, I am in control of my emotions and my urges - that is to say, I’m very disciplined. This is just another practice in improving myself.
With that being said, dear readers, if anyone of you have decided to challenge yourself to giving up something for 40 days for the sake of self-improvement, please do share. Be welcomed to share your thoughts, emotions, and feelings with the rest of us.
The practice of Lent allows one to repent and tighten the relationship with God. Let’s take it upon ourselves to also support each other during this time of challenge.
If you so choose, please tag your postings with ‘evolvedmale’ so we can share and support each other.
What have you decided to give up for Lent/self-improvement?
Build Discipline and Strength
Every man should be the master of himself. He should decide when and where to fulfill his desires and not have his desires control him.
Delaying gratification helps you take control of your emotions and your actions. As an evolved male, you should have control of your life and self-discipline because your life is not controlled by your emotions nor by the circumstances that surround you. Delaying your gratification builds your confidence because you are in control. The more of yourself that you become accustomed to, the more assurance you will develop to make the right decisions. As a result, you will not acting hurriedly nor preemptively - you won’t act on whim or emotion.
But it does not come easy. Discipline is developed and cultivated, it is not a short and simple process. It takes time to understand discipline and how it affects you because discipline is like a muscle that must be exercised in order to build its strength.
We’ve grown out of control with our demand for things, the demand to have things now. We’ve become accustomed to getting what we want now leading us to a false sense of entitlement; if we don’t get what we want now, we blame/complain/get upset. This leads to egocentricity and self-centeredness. We become self-absorbed and inconsiderate of the small things that make our lives wonderful. And because we overlook these small things, we need something to quell this desire for more, in turn, we demand more, we complain more, and we grow more impatient.
Each one of us has the power to unlock something amazing: the power to make things important and cherished, to the ability to sacralize. By using this power, you grow as a man. By creating scarcity in your life, you give in not to your whims and hasty decisions, but to the intelligence within each of us that tells you ‘you can be better.’
By using this power, you become resourceful and efficient. You make do with less and you become a problem-solver, not a whiner; simply, you get shit done.
By using this power, you treat things better. You cherish the things that you’ve earned. In turn, you learn to cherish the things that are given to you and you learn not to take things for granted.
By using this power, feel deeper. You experience your bad times with a deeper intensity but those feelings linger and last to serve as motivation to succeed and never to accept complacency for failure. You experience your good times with a great feeling of happiness because it comes earned through your hardship and work. This positive feelings serve to reinforce your desire to do well as a man to have a positive effect on your environment.
Most importantly, you become the master of yourself. You are not driven by desires and the tendency to make hasty decisions. You gain confidence in yourself by making decisions without regret. You build assurance that translates into other aspects of you: body language, speech patterns, and appearance. You become the best man that you can be.
Use this power and be the better, evolved male.
Abstinence, self-denial, sacrifice, abnegation, temperance: why would we want to do this to ourselves? It’s punishing, painful…and most pathetically for you, it’s difficult. So again, we ask ourselves, why would we want to put ourselves through that?
The truth is that delaying the gratification of your desires offers many benefits.
Make Do with Less
During the past few months, you’ve probably noticed the many tablet PC’s that have hit the market. Of course, these cool looking pieces of newest technology piqued my interest but I realized I already have a desktop and a netbook, did I really need the tablet? I decided to wait a month before purchasing; a month came and gone and when I was browsing the store again, I realized my desire for the tablet wasn’t there anymore. Sure, I was missing out on slinging disgruntled, colourful birds at green pigs on a larger screen, but it wasn’t detrimental to my well-being or my happiness. I thought I needed a tablet, but after waiting a month, I realized I didn’t need it at all.
When you delay your gratification, you’ll often discover that you need less of it than you once thought you did or that you don’t need it at all.
You Treat Things Better
Going back to the previous example, even if you decide that you still want the thing you’ve been holding off on, when you get it after a period of delayed gratification, you’ll definitely take better care of it.
All those toys your parents bought you, if you bought them all yourself, do you still think you would have ended up throwing out/donating that many toys? What about the shoes you really want? Are they like every other pair of shoes that you buy on a whim to end up in the back of your closet? Or will you, going forward, save up for that really special pair that you’ll put effort into making them last and look as good as the day you bought them?
When you feel like you’ve earned something (whether through saving or temporary denial), you won’t want to let that work go to waste.
You know when you buy something that you really shouldn’t? You buy that thing you really can’t afford, or you buy that thing that you really don’t need? Cognitive dissonance? Buyer’s remorse?
All of a sudden, that thing that you thought was once so cool and ‘had to have’ doesn’t seem quite so attractive anymore. The pleasure that you should have had from getting that thing is disparaged by feelings of guilt. So the result is that you can’t fully enjoy your new thing.
On the contrary, when you hold off on what you want and really work hard and earn what you want, the pleasure is all yours to enjoy and you’ll have not a second thought to take anything away from what you’ve desired.
Feelings on a Deeper Level
You know that feeling when you get into a fight with a significant other/family/friend? That feeling of anger and negativity towards them? It’s good for you. Crazy, right?
During the conflict, you feel and you’re emotional. This feeling towards that person(s) is something deep…and that my friends, is something everyone longs to have. Now, I’m not specifically referring to negative feelings, but deep feelings, whether positive or negative. It’s not only important to feel, but feel deeply. It’s crazy, but paradoxically, it’s somewhat pleasurable to feel anything - even if negative - so intensely. Why is it pleasurable? Because these deep feelings define us as individuals and give us meaning and purpose in our existence. If we cannot feel, then how do we cultivate what’s important to us? And if we don’t have anything that we feel are important to us, what purpose do we serve? Have something important to you - better yet, be the idea
At the end of the conflict, you should gain a better understanding of that person and a greater appreciation for their point of view, and most importantly, you will learn something new. All these are positive results from an unfortunate negative experience, however, without the ‘bad,’ one would never learn the ‘good.’
Quite simply, if you want to experience all emotions in its entirety, you need to understand the nuances of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ We often think of anything conflicting as ‘bad’ and anything that is harmonious as ‘good’ - of course, hardly anyone would disagree with the previous statement. But to not understand the implications of good and bad is a fault. To truly appreciate what’s good and ‘now,’ we have to go through the bad experiences and the ‘not have.’ To experience the bad is to fully feel and gain appreciation for what you truly desire - to fully grow and evolve, you have to understand and cultivate both positive and negative dimensions of the human experience.
Recently, I did something quite out of character. On a whim of curiosity and intrigue, a fellow blogger suggested to meet for a drink and discussion. Leading busy lives, we came to the conclusion that we’d meet when schedule allows, no real reason for any rush. The ‘out of character thing’ I did? I said no.
The anticipation of meeting someone new and intriguing can be quite exciting. In fact, I’d like to think that the anticipation of anything is exciting (whether good or bad). It got me thinking about the idea of ‘delayed gratification’ and how powerful this idea can actually be when utilized. It is true that being excited about an impending event can certainly bring a boost in mood and energy levels; if you’ve ever spent an all-nighter packing for a vacation, you know exactly what I’m talking about. At the same time, being excited for something not so fun…say an exam, can also be motivating. More accurately, the dread of the exam is quite motivational in persuading one to study so as not to fail.
In an age where we’re spoiled by instant gratification, it’s easy to overlook and cherish the smallest thing we earn and work for. Whether you believe it not, you’ve already changed to this world of instant gratification, you don’t appreciate the small things, you don’t care for what work has been done to earn something, you’re tardy and not committed to plans, and you’re terribly impatient.
Feeling hungry? Pick up the phone and you get delivery or microwave that 1-minute quick meal. Need a friend? Hop on the internet and browse the numerous online dating websites, or faster yet, pick your phone and BBM/text/msg one or many friends. Feel like watching a movie to pass the time? Again, it’s a click away, or even these days, readily available on your mobile/hand held device. It’s quite simply defined as the age of now.
Because social rules and values have changed to appreciate the liberties and freedom of living in our age of now, there really is nothing stopping us from taking ‘all of this in’ and the more we get used to it, the more demanding we are. And it’s a perpetuating cycle of ‘want, demand, get’ - actually, it’s not just ‘get,’ it’s ‘get NOW.’ When things don’t go as plan, we have the audacity to complain mundane things everyday. The fact that we’re complaining about stupid minor things everyday should raise a red flag about where our ego-centric selves put priority. We complain about long line ups at the grocery store while others don’t know where their next meal will come from. We bitch about line ups at the gas station while some people don’t even have vehicles. We nag about slow internet connection, yet most of the time spent on the internet is for entertainment purpose.
When all the small things we desire are readily available to us, the mentality of ‘want it? get it now’ dangerously translates to other aspects of life. This torrent of information is a never-ending flow and really, there’s no one or nothing to stop us from taking in as much as we can. It is up to you to control this flow. It is up to you to set limits on how much of ‘now’ you get. And it’s up to you to do this, not because you have to, but because you want to. It is up to you to make important what was so highly cherished before: sacrifice and discipline.
So you ask yourself: ‘why would I want to do that?’